He’s the only amputee ever selected in the National Football League draft. He’s one of the few amputees ever to receive an NCAA Division I football scholarship.
And on Saturday, Shaquem Griffin added his name to another short list: amputees who’ve given a university commencement address.
He and his twin brother, Shaquill, teamed up on May 2 to welcome new graduates of their alma mater, the University of Central Florida (UCF), into the alumni ranks. Appearing via live-stream rather than in person because of the pandemic, the brothers spoke without notes and from the heart. A short excerpt from Shaquem’s remarks, referencing his limb difference:
“The one thing I really want to talk about is adversity. I think adversity is what made me who I am….Through adversity, you learn how to be strong. When things get hard, you fight even harder. Don’t let adversity, and don’t let obstacles, stop you from helping the next person after you. Look to your left and look to your right, and know that you’ve got people behind you who are supporting you. And always know that you’re never alone. Help somebody out. That’s what we’re here [at UCF] for. We wanted to make the world a better place. If I help one person, and that person helps 10, that 10 can help 1,000 later. So with your help, with your greatness, let’s make the world a better place.”
Not familiar with the adversity Griffin overcame to get to the NFL? Here’s some background. You can watch his half of the commencement speech below, and read about a couple of other recent amputee commencement speakers: Travis Mills (2019, Trinity College) and Aimee Mullins (2018, Northeastern University).